KYCO welcomes new director of research

The University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) recently welcomed Joseph Zinkovich, O.D., M.S., as the new director of research and professor of optometry.

Zinkovich brings a wealth of experience to KYCO, having spent the last several years as clinical instructor for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and working with Prisma Health System Eye Institute, one of the largest health organizations in the state. Prior to this position, he served as dean of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences School of Optometry and assistant professor at Arizona College of Optometry. In the early 2000’s he worked in private practice.

Dean of KYCO Michael Bacigalupi, O.D., M.S., FAAO, FNAP, is happy to welcome Zinkovich to Pikeville and believes optometry students will benefit greatly from his expertise. 

“We are excited to have such an experienced and passionate educator join our team at KYCO,” said Bacigalupi. “Dr. Zinkovich brings a love for teaching and optometry that is inspiring to students.” 

Zinkovich, a Western Kentucky native, embarked on an unconventional path to optometry by first becoming an engineer after earning his undergraduate degree in industrial systems engineering from the University of Florida and his master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Clemson University. It was not until working long hours at Tampa General Hospital that he decided on a career change and furthered his education, earning his doctor of optometry degree from Nova Southeastern University. 

Zinkovich’s passion has always been education and he is eager to get back in the classroom. He is most looking forward to the interactions with students.

“Even though the challenging clinical position I was working in was very good, I missed the aspects of teaching and being with students,” said Zinkovich. “There was an educational component to what I was doing, but I just prefer the classroom, the laboratory and mentoring students.”

Zinkovich believes a strong, healthy research program is critical and he is ready for the challenge of growing the research opportunities at KYCO.

“When an optometry college starts out, it takes a few years to perfect the academic courses, establish clinics and earn accreditation. Now that all that is in place, the time is right for research to flourish at KYCO. Research programs can lead to opportunities to collaborate with other universities and they are mutually beneficial to both students and faculty,” said Zinkovich. “The aspect I personally enjoy about research is getting the students involved. It provides opportunities for students desiring to participate in research, who might continue into a Ph.D. program or a research position rather than clinical setting.”

Zinkovich is pleased to accept the position at KYCO, returning to Kentucky with his wife, Barbara. Being an educator once more is a dream realized for him and he has lofty aspirations for KYCO’s research program.

For more information about KYCO, visit or call 606-218-5251.